Tenement museum

Located on the Lower East Side, this museum is dedicated to immigrants who arrived in New York. Also known as the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, this cultural space aims to preserve and understand the history of the immigrants who arrived in this region of the United States. The museum, which includes a visitor center, promotes tolerance and the historical perspective of the immigrant experience.

History of the Tenement Museum

The Tenement Museum was founded in 1988 by J. Ruth Abram and Anita Jacobson. The main property of the museum, the house located at 97 Orchard Street, was classified as a national historic monument on April 19, 1994. It is a cooperative site of the National Park Service, but it is owned and managed by the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.

The building located at 97 Orchard Street was built by the immigrant Lukas Glockner in 1863 and has been modified several times to comply with the evolution of the city’s housing laws. At the time of its initial construction, it had 22 apartments and a living room on the basement level.

Over time, six apartments have been converted into commercial shops, which leaves 16 apartments in the building. The modifications made over the years include the installation of indoor plumbing (cold running water, two toilets per floor) and natural gas, then electricity.

In 1935, instead of continuing to modify the building, the owner evicted the residents, sealed the upper floors and left only the shops open. No further modifications were made until the Lower East Side Tenement Museum took over the building in 1988.

The idea of building a museum to honor the immigrants who arrived in the United States comes from the activist Ruth Abram. His intention was to find housing in New York, which are humble buildings that housed several immigrant families, to make this museum. While Ruth was about to abandon the idea, she ended up finding the building at number 97 Orchard Street, which still had several old aspects. It is estimated that between 1863 and 1935, more than 7,000 people from 20 different countries lived there. In total, the museum restored seven apartments, a German brewery, and in the neighboring building (at number 103) recreated several immigrant houses after the Second World War and a clothing factory in Chinatown.


What can we see at the Tenement Museum?

At the Tenement Museum, there are three types of visits that are divided into other subcategories. In “Tour of the Buildings” you will be able to see restored apartments and shops of immigrants from different eras. During this visit, it is possible to get to know the stories of people during the Second World War and the Great Depression, for example, and to discover the foods brought by immigrants. In “Meet the residents”, an actress characterized as a 14-year-old teenager who lived there will show you around her apartment and tell you how life was there in 1916. Finally, in “Walk the neighborhood” you will walk along the Lower East Side, and you will learn more about the buildings and the immigrants who contributed to the construction of this part of the city.

How to get to the Tenement

The museum is open every day from 10:30 to 17:00, but the schedule of each visit varies depending on the day.

Tickets, which cost $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors, end quickly, so it’s good to reserve yours in advance on the Tenement Museum website. It is also worth mentioning that all tours are recommended for children from 8 years old.

The nearest metro station is Delancey St, on line F


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